‘White Marriage’ Blot on Sacred Values

‘White Marriage’ Blot on  Sacred Values
‘White Marriage’ Blot on  Sacred Values

The growing phenomena of unmarried  couples’ cohabitation which has been coined as ‘white marriage’ in Iran has raised serious concerns among authorities and sociologists alike who associate the trend with Western values and warn about its negative social consequences.

It may be recalled that in November, the head of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei’s  office, Hojjatoleslam Mohammad Mohammadi Golpayegani issued a strongly worded statement calling on officials to “show no mercy” in clamping down on cohabitation, ISNA reported.

“It’s shameful for a man and a woman to live together without being married,” the statement said.

In an article by sociologist Amanollah Gharaei Moghaddam published by Persian daily Shahrvand, the expert criticized the trend. While acknowledging that social and economic problems such as unemployment, expensive housing and high costs of living contribute to the drop in the marriage rate in the country, Gharaei Moghaddam pointed out that “a growing number of young people with suitable social and financial conditions are also avoiding or delaying marriage.” They prefer to move out of the family home and live either alone or with a partner of the opposite sex, a practice they call as white marriage, which I believe is an irrelevant term,” the expert wrote.

Marriage is a religiously, socially and legally recognized union between man and woman. By that definition, there is no place for the so called ‘white marriage’ in our Constitution or Sharia (Islamic) law. Hence, the term marriage is not applicable to these relationships since no legal marriage has taken place. The term ‘white’ in the ‘white marriage’ is also irrelevant.

“A more befitting term for this practice would be ‘dark’ household, since a household consists of people who live in the same dwelling. Similarly the couples living together in cohabitation form a household and not a family.”

 Negative Views

Noting that “youth from middle and upper middle class have a more negative view towards marriage,” he said the lower middle class youth have greater tendency to get married, in spite of their financial problems.

Many observers point to Iran’s soaring divorce rates as a key reason why some couples do not want to rush into marriage. As part of Islamic marriage law, the groom has to pay “Mahrieh” (mandatory payment in the form of money or possessions) to the bride if the marriage breaks down. Hence, men can end up in debt for years after a divorce. Failure to pay can result in imprisonment.

But the expert believes that youth should not avoid marriage due to fear of possible difficulties in married life.

Instead, he suggests, they must treasure happy family life and learn to tackle marital problems. “Marriage is sacred and has always been a pious act. But western influences, besides the growing divorce rates and the problems associated with ‘Mahrieh’ have created a fear of commitment among the youth.  The authorities must take note of this social issue,” Gharaei Moghaddam noted.